I hate those journalists who commenting on Catholic affairs, speak about Pope Benedict as being a "Conservative".
I think there are "Conservatives" in the Church, they want to do the things they have always done, or not do the things they should have done. "Conservatives" battle cry is "No change" or "Leave us alone, we are quite alright as we are". In Judaism the Pharisees were the Conservative party at prayer, they clung to "human traditions", they defended and lived by human institutions.
"Conservatism" is the enemy of the Gospel. The Irish bishops in their cover-up of abuse were "Conservative", protecting and defending there own position and the institution they had created in their own image.
Pope Benedict is not "Conservative", his move to abicate/resign/retire is actually radical. His constant refrain of "turn to the Lord", "seek the face of Christ", is a call to return to the source, to the root of our faith Jesus Christ. His Jesus of Nazareth trilogy was his great popular call to individual beleivers to know and love the person of Jesus.
I can cope without tiaras but I would like the restoration of the Capuchin with the flaxen taper crying out "Sic transit gloria mundi" at the Papal Inauguration. The sign of the Pope announcing at the beginning of Lent that he is going into the desert to spend the remaining years of his life in prayer and study is a radical sign of union with Christ and abandonment to Christ. It is what Lent is about, the abandonment of the vanities of the world and deepening our search for God.
It is radical and it is within the great spiritual tradition of the Church. It is a call to us to abandon the comfortable of every day life and to enter the desert. Pope Benedict's last and most profound sign and gesture is a reminder that all Christians must enter the desert, stripping themselves of trivialities to turn to the Lord and to seek his face.
"Conservatism" is about the comforts of this life the radicalism of Pope Benedict is "to prefer nothing to the love of Christ" Rule of St Benedict lxxii. Going into desert is Benedict's call to radical Christian living, let it be sign that revives radical monasticism and radical Christian living. This will be a fitting memorial to one of the greatest and most radical Popes in the history of the Church.